Secretary General welcomes President Zelenskyy to the NATO Summit ahead of inaugural NATO-Ukraine Council
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine to the Vilnius Summit on Wednesday (12 July 2023) ahead of the inaugural meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council.
The Secretary General praised the President, the Ukrainian people, the armed forces and the political leadership for their courage and determination since the beginning of Russia’s war. “NATO will continue to stand with you for as long as it takes,” he said.
The establishment of the NATO-Ukraine Council is part of a three-part package of support bringing Ukraine closer to NATO. The Council will act as a forum “where Ukraine and NATO Allies will meet as equals, hold crisis consultations, and jointly take decisions,” Mr Stoltenberg said.
The package also includes a multi-year programme of assistance to help the Ukrainian armed forces transition from Soviet-era to NATO equipment and standards and become fully interoperable with Allied forces.
Allies have also reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of NATO and agreed to remove the requirement for a Membership Action Plan. “This will change Ukraine’s membership path from a two-step process to a one-step process,” said the Secretary General, adding: “we will issue an invitation for Ukraine to join NATO when Allies agree that conditions are met.” This is “a strong, united message from Allies on your path to NATO membership,” he added.
Mr Stoltenberg further stressed the need for “credible arrangements” to be in place to ensure Ukraine’s security when the war ends, welcoming the plan of many Allies to commit to providing long-term security assurance to Ukraine. “This will help deter any future aggression from Russia after this war ends,” he said, adding that it complements the support provided by NATO.
“The decisions made here in Vilnius mark the beginning of a new chapter in the relationship between NATO and Ukraine. Today, we meet as equals. I look forward to the day we meet as Allies,” Mr Stoltenberg concluded.